Yesterday's resignation by former CEO Owen Van Natta is not totally surprising, given MySpace's continued losses in advertising, search revenues, and traffic. What is shocking, however, is that the senior leadership at NewsCorp and Fox Interactive remains in positions of power despite the significant mishandling of the scandal involving the discovery of more than 90,000 convicted sex offenders on NewsCorp's flagship social networking site. MySpace could have taken the steps to notify any parents whose children were contacted by convicted sex offenders, including changing terms of service to allow greater disclosure of sex offenders' conduct. That's what a responsible company with responsible management would have done. To my knowledge, they didn't, presumably afraid of the negative publicity.
Last year, 29,000 Registered Sex Offenders (RSOs) were discovered on MySpace, after initial reports that the number was only 7,000. The number is now 90,000, and reflects only those registering with truthful information. We seek to limit risk to minors that stems from users — particularly RSOs — registering with false information on social network sites (“SNS”). The Multi-State Working Group on Social Networking, comprising 50 state Attorneys General, asked the Task Force to find and develop online identity authentication tools primarily for social network sites in the United States. The Attorneys General also asked the Task Force to establish specific and objective criteria that will be utilized to evaluate existing and new technology safety solutions.